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Articles Posted in Debt Defense

Check out the recently released November 2020 Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Real Estate Reports. Due to listing data being uploaded sometimes weeks after a transaction closes, these reports are often a month behind. The delay is required to make sure the reports are as accurate as possible.

In summary, we are seeing increases in sales activity and prices across the board in South Florida. Inventory (supply) is also dropping.

Knowledge is power and here is the latest:

Many companies are breaking the law and you could be entitled to recover money when they do.

According to a body of federal law designed to protect consumers, lenders, and our entire banking system, a printed credit or debit card receipt provided at the point of sale/transaction cannot show any portion of the expiration date of your card nor can it show more than the last five digits of your card number. This includes ATM receipts. But it does not apply to handwritten or e-mailed receipts, nor does it apply to those that contain an imprint or copy of the actual card.

If you don’t keep receipts, please start paying attention to any receipt provided to you at the point of sale/transaction and let us know if you find one that violates the law.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or “CARES Act” became law on March 27, 2020. Out of 335 pages, just over one page pertains to owners of single-family homes, townhouses, and condos. About a page and a half pertains to people who own and rent multi-family investment properties. And, there is about a page and a half on evictions. The great majority of the Act addresses unemployment, medical issues, and appropriation of funds to various government agencies. There is also a sizable section on $500,000,000,000 in loans, guarantees, and investments that the Treasury Secretary gets to dole out.

I’ve posted the applicable sections below but first, here is my summary of the key points for homeowners and tenants:

  • All of the protections apply only to properties that have “Federally backed mortgage loans.”

In addition to running, a premier legal research service, Thompson Reuters also publishes Super Lawyers. As stated on

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Super Lawyers Magazine features the list and profiles of selected attorneys and is distributed to attorneys in the state or region and the ABA-accredited law school libraries. Super Lawyers is also published as a special section in leading city and regional magazines across the country. Lawyers are selected to a Super Lawyers list in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

On or about March 13, 2009, our client, Mr. Julian Garvin, was called to active duty by the United States Army for one year, to begin on March 22, 2009. On March 26, 2009, he informed his mortgage servicer, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., that he had been called to serve. Mr. Garvin provided a copy of his deployment order and asked them to reduce his interest rate, as required by federal law. No such adjustments were made. While on active duty, and for 11 months after his return, Mr. Garvin continued to make his full monthly payments. Then, at the peak of the crisis, he was unable to continue to pay.

On November 14, 2012, ALS-RVC, LLC, the entity claiming the right to foreclose, filed suit. The case went to trial and was involuntary dismissed, in part, because of ALS-RVC’s failure to adjust the interest rate as required by the Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA). 50 U.S.C.A §3937. ALS-RVC appeals. In their Initial brief they concede the SCRA “applies to this situation, and [Mr. Garvin’s] loan payments should have been credited with a reduced interest rate during his active duty…” They also concede that “Subsection (e) of 527 is entitled ‘Penalty’ and reads, ‘Whoever knowingly violates subsection (a) shall be fined as provided in title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.’ 50 U.S.C.A § 3937(e).” Yet, rather than trying to make amends for their admitted, jailable offense committed against a member of the United States Army, the bank and their lawyers appeal.

In the 80s, we were introduced to the phrase “trickle down economics.” From what I see in this and so many other cases, the only thing trickling down from Wall Street is fraud, greed, arrogance and a complete disregard for the rule of law.

Today, we had our 2013 holiday office party.  After working in the morning, the best supporting cast in the business and I took some time off to share a meal and unwind a bit.  After eating at the Yard House in Gulfstream Park, we drove over to Holiday Bowling Lanes and bowled a couple games.

It is a yearly tradition that I share some thoughts via a poem.  Just after our drinks arrived, I read the following to everyone:

Welcome to the 2013 holiday party!

The first trial for this case was scheduled in Miami-Dade for January 2013.  I had spent days and nights preparing, refreshing my memory on all the details such as the payment history, acceleration letter, the note and mortgage, mortgage servicer correspondence, court filings, discovery, rules of evidence, procedure and much more.  As I usually do, I ran background checks on the bank’s witness.  I reviewed all the mortgage servicing processes from this particular bank as covered in various other court documents we have on file.  I felt prepared. I was ready.

Our client had a Fannie Mae loan, serviced by one of the biggest banks. The file contained the usual hoof prints of suspicious documents.  It was handled by a foreclosure mill, which was one of many under investigation by the Attorney General’s office.  Unfortunately, this is not unusual…

I woke up the morning of trial raring to go.  I was prepared, calm and pumped with a bit of adrenaline.  Litigators and athletes will understand the letdown I felt when the trial did not go forward.  Their witness did not show and the court ordered a continuance until April 4th.

It’s been a few days now since the oral argument was completed in an appeal of one of our foreclosure cases.  Legal issues are rarely cut and dry and while this case seemed to be, it invariably was not.  Months and months of preparation boiled down into 16 minutes of argument and as the buzz from the excitement wears off, I can begin to get a clearer picture of how I feel about this one.

Of course, initially, my mind repeated an internal loop of things I could have said or done differently. Mentioning the Boultbee case which stands for the proposition that a denial along with raising the specific statute, similar to the specific paragraph in the mortgage, in an affirmative defense, without more, is enough to adequately deny the general allegation that conditions precedent have been met to shift the burden back to the Plaintiff to prove that element of their case, is one example.  We did cite that case in our brief but this point is in a footnote.  I sure hope the Judges see that.  There were others but that was the one that bothered me most. This may or may not have made a difference and second guessing your performance as a lawyer is part of the job.  However, overall, I knew the law and was proud of the way things went.  I received a number of calls and emails from trial and appellate lawyers whom I respect and admire and the feedback was positive.  Especially since appellate law sets precedent, this was reassuring. As much as my focus is on serving my clients, I know that many others can be affected by this ruling.

Taking a further step back, I can’t help but wonder whether or not this case would have even needed to be appealed if it were not a foreclosure case.  A few years ago, just before the foreclosure crisis, I was in the middle of a 5-day jury trial.  In the case, like in almost all others, the Judge was called upon to rule as to whether or not a document could be admitted into evidence for the jury to consider in its deliberations.  It was a small, one of many, physical therapy bill.  Rather than seek someone from the physical therapist’s office to admit the bill in a case that involved major surgeries, we sought to admit it through the testimony of a doctor.  The doctor knew the bill was fair and accurate, and even knew that the services were ordered, reasonable, and necessary.  However, as required by Florida Statutes 90.803(6), he could not testify as to when the bill was made, how it was made, how it was kept, and whether or not it was made by a person with knowledge. We had admitted similar evidence in other cases usually by agreement but this opposing lawyer would not stipulate.  Because the doctor couldn’t truthfully testify to the issues or “prongs” required by 90.803(6), the judge properly excluded the bill from coming into evidence.  We had our client later testify based on her personal knowledge as to the amount of that bill so no harm was done.

A 101% Principle Reduction!

After a little over a year in litigation, we are proud to announce that we have been successful in helping yet another client obtain a principal reduction. While they are rare, they most certainly can and do happen!

Our client came to us with a simple goal, a fair and sustainable loan modification. The property in this particular case, according to the county property appraiser, is currently valued at approximately $38,000.  Unfortunately, like most of the deeply underwater homes in Florida, the outstanding balance of the loan @ $197,000 was substantially higher than the value of the property.  During the course of litigation in this case, we put the Plaintiff to task to prove their case.  We regularly work 12-14 hour days, 6-7 days per week uncovering foreclosures that are more often than not, chocked full of questionable, suspicious, or outright fabricated documents.

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